With a World Series MVP award already under his belt, St. Louis Cardinals third baseman David Freese was still in search of his first All-Star nod.
Freese is headed to his first All-Star Game as the National League's Final Vote winner and will be the fifth St. Louis player on the roster, joining teammates Lance Lynn, Rafael Furcal, Carlos Beltran and Yadier Molina.
"I'm happy. I'm thrilled. It's going to be great to join the other four [Cardinals All-Stars] and go to Kansas City," Freese said. "Obviously, thank you Cardinal Nation. What a crazy way to make an All-Star team."
St. Louis and its band of All-Stars will kick off a three-game series versus the Miami Marlins tonight at Busch Stadium and just took three of four meetings with the Colorado Rockies. Beltran and Matt Holliday both had two RBI and Jon Jay drove in a run in Thursday's 6-2 win over the Rockies, while Lynn posted his 11th win (11-4) by hurling six scoreless innings.
"I felt really good the last couple outings, I was just off a little bit mechanically," said Lynn, who was 0-2 with a 9.98 ERA in his previous three starts. "Tonight, what we've been working on finally started showing in the game."
The Cardinals are 4-3 on a 10-game homestand and 2 1/2 games behind Pittsburgh for the NL Central lead. Cincinnati is second at two games off the pace.
Jake Westbrook draws the start for the Cardinals on Friday and he is 3-0 in his past four starts. He previously toed the rubber in Sunday's 5-4 win over Pittsburgh and earned the win even though he allowed four runs and nine hits in six innings. The win lifted his 2012 record to 7-6 with a 3.91 earned run average in 16 starts.
Westbrook, who was 0-4 in six starts before his unbeaten run, faced the Marlins in an 8-7 road win on June 25 and did not record a decision with six innings of two-run ball. The right-hander is 1-0 with a 2.97 ERA in five career starts against the Marlins.
Miami introduced new slugger Carlos Lee in Thursday's 4-0 win over Milwaukee in the finale of a four-game series, and the big first baseman went 2-for-4 with a run scored. The Marlins acquired Lee from the Houston Astros for prospects Matt Dominguez and Rob Rasmussen on Wednesday.
"That's what you're going to get from Carlos. He is a very smart baseball player," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said.
Greg Dobbs hit a two-run homer for Miami, which won the final two games of the set with the Brewers and prevailed for the sixth time in eight tries. Logan Morrison added two hits and two RBI in the win and starting pitcher Mark Buehrle evened his record at 8-8 with 7 2/3 shutout innings and eight K's.
The Marlins are 2-2 on a seven-game road trip and sit fourth in the NL East standings, nine games off the lead. Marlins All-Star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton hasn't played since Monday because of a sore right knee. He took some swings in the batting cage on Thursday and could return tonight.
"Tomorrow is the test," Stanton said on the club's website. "I'll do all the pregame stuff, practice, run around in the outfield, [batting practice]. We'll see how the pregame goes."
Stanton has powered his way to a .283 average, 19 homers and 50 RBI this season. The 22-year-old is riding a six-game hitting streak.
Ricky Nolasco gets the nod for Miami tonight and he ended a four-start winless (0-3) drought his last time out in a 5-2 victory over Philadelphia on Sunday. Nolasco held the Phillies to two runs on six hits in seven innings, pushing his 2012 mark to 7-6 in 16 outings with a 4.62 ERA.
Nolasco did not figure into the decision of an 8-7 loss to St. Louis on June 25 and yielded one unearned run in 6 2/3 frames. The right-hander is still searching for his first win against the Cardinals and is 0-4 with a lofty 5.23 ERA in eight career matchups (7 starts) in this series.
The Marlins have lost three of four contests to St. Louis this season and eight of the past nine meetings between the clubs.